Under Australia’s new Disability Strategy 2021-31, all governments, as well as community organisations and businesses, are required to include people with disability in their emergency management and disaster response and recovery planning.
The risk for people with disability is even higher for those experiencing intersecting issues limiting their capacity to respond during a disaster, such as financial stress, precarious housing, or low English literacy. In the City of Greater Dandenong (CGD) 6.8 per cent of residents need assistance with daily activities, and 64 per cent of residents are born overseas. Over the past two years, Jesuit Social Services’ Centre for Just Places has been working with the CGD’s sustainability and health and wellbeing teams to build an understanding of climate vulnerability in their municipality and include the voices of those with lived experience in shaping their programs and policies.
Our work together has included a municipal scan of health and wellbeing indicators as they interact with climate impacts, a series of community workshops exploring the cascading impacts of disruption to community services during periods of extreme weather, piloting an organisational resilience-building exercise with a neighbourhood house and community leaders and, most recently, a Disability Inclusive Emergency Planning Forum.
The Forum was delivered in partnership with University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy, CGD and City of Casey, inviting people with disability, carers, disability service providers, council and emergency management personnel, to make recommendations to improve inclusive municipal emergency management planning.